Australia Advances to Quarterfinals with 82-80 Win
London - Former Husker Aleks Maric played a key role in Australia picking up its third consecutive win at the 2012 London Olympics, an 82-80 victory over previously unbeaten Russia early Monday.
With the win, Australia, which has won its last three contests, finishes Preliminary Round Group B with a 3-2 record and advances to the quarterfinals that begin Wednesday. As the No. 4 seed out of Group B, they will take on the top seed in Group A, which will be either the United States or Argentina, depending on their matchup Monday afternoon.
Maric, a two-time All-Big 12 performer who ranks on the top five on Husker charts in both scoring and rebounding, started for the third time for the Australians in London and totaled eight points on 4-of-7 shooting and grabbed four rebounds in just over 15 minutes of action. Maric scored six straight points to begin the second half for Australia after it took a 46-45 lead into the break.
In a close battle that was within seven points the entire 40 minutes, Australia built its largest lead of the day at 77-70 with 5:18 remaining, but Russia used a 10-2 run to regain the lead at 80-79 following two Vitaliy Fridzon free throws with four seconds left. After a timeout, Australia had one final opportunity, as Joe Ingles found Patty Mills at the top of the key, and Mills beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer to give Australia the one-point win.
Maric, who has spent the last two seasons playing in Greece, has appeared in all five of Australia's contests, averaging 3.2 points on 50-percent shooting from the field and 2.8 rebounds per game.
For another former Husker, the 2012 London experience is over, as Nigeria fell to France, 79-73 in Preliminary Round Group A on Monday. Ade Dagunduro suffered a knee injury during the first quarter of Nigera's loss to Lithuania last Tuesday and missed Nigeria's final three games, including Monday's loss.
Nigeria finished fifth in Group A with a 1-4 record, while Dagunduro was limited to six points in just 20 minutes of work in London after averaging 10.2 points, 3.0 assists and 2.2 rebounds in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament last Month.
Nebraska is one of nine NCAA men's basketball programs with multiple Olympians in the London Olympics, as Maric and Dagunduro became the first Husker men's basketball players to appear in the Olympics.